Children’s Vaccination Moved To Monday

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The vaccination of children ages 5 to 11 years has been moved to Monday, February 7, due to the delay in the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to be used in the rollout. The rollout was supposed to have been launched today, February 4.

A joint statement from the Department of Health (DoH) and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) said the first shipment of around 700,000 doses of the reformulated vaccines will arrive on Friday night.

The rollout was rescheduled “to ensure adequate preparation and distribution of the Pfizer vaccines allocated for children ages 5 to 11 years old.”

Thirty-two sites have been tapped in the National Capital Region to administer the reformulated vaccine, with ceremonial vaccinations at the Skydome in SM City North Edsa, FilOil Flying V Centre and Manila Zoo.

NTF Special Adviser Dr. Teodoro Herbosa said there would be similar rollouts in Central Luzon and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) once deliveries pick up.

At the National Children's Hospital (NCH) in Quezon City, the medical director, Dr. Moriel de Jesus-Creecnia, said preparations will be no different from that for the 12 to 17 age group. It includes the setup of a registration link, training of vaccination teams and the area where the vaccination will be held.

De Jesus-Creencia also said the hospital has begun simulations from the registration, counselling, vital signs monitoring, assessment, vaccination and post-vaccination monitoring.

“Ni-remind na po natin sila kung ano po 'yung mga dapat nilang gawin, ano 'yung pwedeng itanong sa kanila at…isa po iyon sa ipinahanda namin, magkaroon po ng mga television set sa waiting area para po hindi naiinip 'yung mga bata (We reminded the trainees of their task, what questions should be asked, and…we also prepared a television set in the waiting area so that the children won't get bored),” she said.

A total of 1,467 children have been pre-registered at the NCH, which she said would allow them to vaccinate kids until February 15 at the latest.

She also said that the hospital will accept pre-registered and walk-in patients since there is a registration area at the hospital entrance.

Those who have pre-registered will be escorted at the 5th floor of the NCH building for their vital signs and counselling.

Herbosa said the vaccination of the 5 to 11 year olds will give them additional protection from the virus, especially after the DoH noted a rise Covid-19 cases among the age group.

The government aims to jab around 17 million 5 to 11 year olds, which will add to the targeted 90 million Filipinos who are fully vaccinated before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte's term.

The pediatric vaccination will also serve as preparation for the planned resumption of limited face-to-face classes, Cabinet Secretary and acting spokesman Karlo Alexei Nograles said.

Nograles has assured that the pediatric vaccines are safe and effective because it has been reformulated for the particular age group.

The Department of Education earlier this week announced it has authorized its regional units to start the “progressive expansion phase” of limited face-to-face classes after getting the green light from the President.

In Metro Manila, which is under Alert Level 2 until February 15, 28 of the 118 public schools that piloted in-person classes last December will resume face-to-face instruction soon.

KRISTINA MARALIT AND RED MENDOZA